I’m a Trained Eater
When I was a kid, we did not dress for dinner. We didn’t even call the evening meal dinner—we called it supper. But my father liked it on the table at 5:00 PM, so, except for very rare occasions, that’s when we had dinner, er, supper.
My family did not party much. And when it did, the guests were relatives I saw all the time anyway. At Mom’s direction we put out the good dishes and the good silverware, and put a paper napkin at each place. There were more dishes on the table than when the family ate alone, and some of them were special, but many were the same kind of food we ate every day.
Generally a party was over by 8:00 PM, though sometimes it would run longer if my brothers and I were cajoled into breaking out our musical instruments. We weren’t good players, but we were enthusiastic.
Many years later I met Laurie, who both trained me and changed my expectations about food. She trained me to put out placemats as well as napkins and to often experiment with recipes. Even now, Laurie and I do not dress for dinner — though we do wear clothes and the evening meal IS called dinner.
We have cats. And while most of them are satisfied with regular meals and a warm place to sleep, some of them are escape artists who want to explore the wider world. That’s why I spend a lot of time shepherding guests, making sure the doors are opened and shut quickly so the cats don’t get out. I’ve been successful so far.
These days my idea of a party is different from what it was when I was a kid, but a few things have not changed. The successful party is still a gathering of interesting people who like each other and enjoy eating what is served. Warmth is as important when choosing guests as it is when preparing food.
You can find more about Mel Gilden, who writes children’s books and quirky science fiction/fantasy/mysteries for adults, at his Web site, including information about his newest books, The Jabberwock Came Whiffling and Dangerous Hardboiled Magicians.